Hiking gadgets can make your outdoor adventures more enjoyable, more comfortable, and safer. With the amount of outdoor gear on the market today, you may be wondering which hiking gadgets are worth investing in. We reviewed popular hiker’s gadgets and gear to find the best options for you and the best holiday gifts for your favorite hikers.
While you may think of technology when you think of gadgets, hiking gadgets include mechanical gear such as water filtering devices and multi-tools. This post will highlight both trailblazing tech and other essential hiking supplies.
10 Best Hiking Gadgets for Outdoor Enthusiasts
Ready to upgrade past basic hiking gear? There is seemingly no end to the amount of outdoor gadgets one can purchase. However, there are some hiking must-haves that we think will really improve your hiking experience and/or safety on the trail. While we focused on fun gadgets that any day hiker might use, these can also be used for backpacking and other outdoor adventures.
Drinking fresh water on a hike can be an exciting and refreshing experience. However, it is not safe to drink from natural sources such as lakes or rivers without filtering the water first. There are many ways to filter water, but the LifeStraw is probably the simplest. It's very affordable, lightweight, and easy to use.
With this filtration system, there is no need to purchase a specific type of water bottle. You can stick the straw directly in the water source and drink from it or scoop water into a large-mouth water bottle and put the straw in there. LifeStraws make great gifts for outdoor adventurers of all ages and are a great addition to any survival kit. They have an unlimited shelf life, and one straw can last up to five years if used daily in an emergency situation.
A power bank is essential for any tech-savvy hiker. You can listen to music or podcasts while you are hiking and never run out of power. Several of the other items on this list require battery power to use. Even if you are doing a short hike, carrying a power bank ensures you can still use your phone, GPS, and lantern/headlamp in the event that you get lost or need rescue.
The BioLite Charge power banks are FAA compliant which means you can bring them in your carry-on. It is fast charging and only weighs about ⅓ of a pound (5.8 ounces). With 6,000 mAh, it can charge the average smartphone fully 1.5 times. If you are looking for a power bank for multi-day trips, consider the Charge 80 instead. It’s heavier but can hold a lot more power, making it a great camping gadget.
These Shokz headphones may be the coolest camping gear on this list. Bone conduction open-ear headphones are an excellent hiking and running gadget because they allow you to enjoy your music while still being able to hear your surroundings. Shokz headphones are waterproof, lightweight, and quick-charging. You can use them for eight hours on one charge. For backpacking trips, you can recharge them overnight with your power bank, and they’ll be ready to go again for the next day of hiking.
This watch goes so far beyond telling time. You can pair it with your phone to text directly from the watch while on trail. It’s also one of the best fitness gadgets for hikers and trail runners as it includes heart rate and stress sensors. With a built-in GPS, route tracking, and a compass all at the tip of your finger, navigation has never been easier. Other features of this watch that make it a great hiking gadget are:
- Altitude reader
- Weather barometer
- Pairs with Garmin Inreach satellite communicators
- Up to 14 days of battery life
- Completely waterproof
Elevate your hike with lightweight, portable binoculars. You can spot distant waterfalls, birds, and other wildlife. Nocs Provisions are ideal binoculars to add to your hiking gear because they are waterproof and fogproof. They weigh about ¾ pound (11.85 ounces) and are designed for you to be able to easily take pictures with your phone camera through the binoculars. Nocs Provisions makes binoculars with several different lens strengths and a variety of fun colors to choose from.
This outdoor gadget is only needed if you are hiking or camping in an area where bears live. Black bears, such as those found in many parts of the US, are generally not a threat to humans, but you can always carry bear spray as an extra precaution. If you live in or are visiting an area with wild grizzly bears or polar bears, bear spray is camping & hiking equipment!
While historically, grizzly bears roamed a large portion of North America, today, you will only find them living wildly in the following states:
Note: Some parks do not allow bear spray including Yosemite and Sequoia national parks. Check the specific rules before visiting an area. You also cannot fly with bear spray in your carry-on or checked bag. If you are flying, you must buy bear spray once you arrive. You will find Counter Assault in outdoor stores and convenience stores in grizzly bear country.
I personally use these walkie-talkies with my partner on hikes and road trips. They are helpful if we are unsure of our route. We can split up and scout out different routes. They also make clever camping gadgets for family trips at campgrounds with no phone service.
The Midland X-Talkers are reliable and reach a good distance. While they advertise up to a 26-mile range, we have found that they only work well up to a couple of miles apart. After 2-3 miles, the connection starts to get choppy, and it’s hard to communicate. I like that these walkie-talkies come with rechargeable batteries and a USB charging cable. They can be charged via a power bank while hiking if needed.
A knife or multi-tool is one of the ten essentials for hiking. It has many purposes for all types of outdoor adventurers from backpackers to hunters and anglers. Gerber multi-tools are made specifically for hikers and campers and include hiking tools that you might not find on standard multi-tools such as:
- A tent stake puller
- A Ferro rod striker
- A tiny saw
A tent stake puller is one of the neatest camper gadgets I have seen. Tweezers are necessary hiking safety gear for removing splinters and bee stingers. The Gerber Stake Out tool is also very lightweight (3.23 ounces) and has a built-in carabiner for easy clipping to the outside of your pack or belt loop.
Whether you want to document your hikes for social media or just to share with family, a Go Pro allows you to easily capture high-quality footage on your hike. Hiking with a selfie stick is not recommended for your own safety, and hiking with a drone is not recommended for the safety of animals). A GoPro with a mount attached to your backpack, wrist, hat, or chest is non-intrusive to your surroundings while still capturing the nature around you. GoPro has made many variations of the Hero. Hero12 is the most recent release.
Our research on cool outdoor gadgets would not be complete without talking about hiking apps. My favorite is GAIA GPS. It’s ideal for route planning and on trail navigation. You can create your own routes ahead of time, get detailed hiking statistics, and see trail options near you. When you are on the trail, you can use the built-in compass to orient yourself. GAIA GPS includes some social features common on other popular hiking apps (e.g. AllTrails and Guthook), but I find the maps to be of higher quality than what I’ve seen on other apps. Their yearly subscription plan is affordable and allows you to download multiple different types of maps for offline use.
Final Verdict on Hiking Gadgets
Do you need the latest cool gadgets to go hiking? No. But, they will elevate your hiking experience and ensure your safety if there is an accident or emergency. Hiking and camping gadgets can make your outdoor adventures more fun as well by adding entertainment. There is no one-size-fits-all must-have hiking gear list. It depends on what type of experience you want to cultivate during your time in nature.
Gadgets and gear also make great hiking gifts. With a range of price points on this list of the best hiking tech and gear, there is something for everyone. For kid-friendly gifts, consider a LifeStraw or walkie-talkies. Adults may enjoy a GoPro or binoculars to bring along on hikes. Trail Wolf also sells hiking clothes and fun shirts for hikers and campers.